Christmas Traditions :: Mine, Theirs, and Ours

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Family Tradition

Being a deep south girl, traditions are stacked high in my family. So, obviously, the Christmas season is no exception. When I was a child my entire family would gather at my grandparents’ house for Christmas Eve. Great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, cousins, siblings—the whole crew—came. It was crowded and crazy, but it was the most precious of times. We all gathered together and had a buffet of amazing southern cooking.

I remember always being so excited and anxious, barely touching my food, in anticipation of the gift-giving portion of the night. Once my uncle, who played the part of Santa, let us know that the anxiously awaited “present time” had come, we would all gather in the family room. I will never forget the butterflies that swarmed in my belly from all of the anticipation. Before we could dive in and start flinging wrapping paper, we had one very important tradition to complete. We would open the bible and read the entire Christmas story.

Past 

Each child for as far back as my grandparents had the challenge throughout the year of memorizing the entire thing. It was definitely an undertaking, but it was done each and every year. Whoever’s turn it was that year would stand up and share The Christmas Story. It was quiet and solemn. As an adult, I truly treasure those memories and how it was such an important milestone for each child. The years have passed now. My great-grandparents have passed away, our children have grown older, and we don’t always get to gather on Christmas Eve. We have shifted to new traditions to accommodate all of our ever-growing families. I have joined into my husband’s family’s traditions and my own family of six has also created our own holiday memories. 

Present

We now gather for Christmas Eve with my husband’s family. Again, this includes so many fun things that I have grown to love. I am truly grateful that my kids are being raised to cherish these memories. One of our very favorite traditions is fireworks. Yes, you read that right! When all the presents have been opened and we have eaten ourselves into food comas, we gather in the front yard as a huge family and light up the night! Saturday night specials are in full force for all of us to enjoy. . . and sometimes the police. It is not a typical tradition, but it is ours. My kids love telling their friends that fireworks are not just for the Fourth of July! 

The Fun

On Christmas morning when Santa has made his official drop of gifts, the grandparents come over for a Christmas breakfast. Once they leave, my husband and I have one strict rule—no real clothes, only pajamas, for the entire day. We have nowhere to go and nothing to do but sit back and relax. (Oh, and have mimosas!) Then as evening approaches, we go to Waffle House in our pajamas for dinner. It’s silly and I’m sure my 13-year-old will be horribly embarrassed this year, but it’s our unique tradition we have created as a family. I can only hope my kids will carry this one on long after I am gone. 

I love each and every tradition from the old to the brand new. The steadiness of something that happens every year is enjoyable and comforting. My kids are now old enough to also look forward to and realize the importance of creating a rhythm in each family for special occasions. I hope they carry on some parts of ours and make new ones of their own one day. Merry Christmas everyone! 

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Kristen is an Alabama native, sort of. As the daughter of a military man, she was born in England and spent the first 5 years of her life there, but Alabama has always been her "true" home. She was raised from then on in Wetumpka, Alabama, which is famous for the movie "Big Fish" and most recently the town was chosen to have a remodel by Ben and Erin Napier, who are stars of the HGTV show "Hometown". Kristen graduated in 2004 from Auburn University where she met her husband Jeff; they've been married 15 years. They have four children together, ages 12, 10, 10, and 3 and reside in Homewood. Kristen has had a versatile career which extends from owning a local fabric/sewing shop in Homewood, AL to recently working as a Team Lead for the popular babysitting app.

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